Encouragement Through Musicianship

aka City Strings United   |   Roxbury, MA   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 45-5118370


City Strings is a youth development organization with a social justice approach to building youths’ productive and hope-filled lives through teaching them to play a stringed instrument that they previously did not have access to, due to lack of funding.

Understanding that violence, crime, scholastic underachievement, hopelessness and poverty are often preceded by lack of opportunity, societal oppression, and subsequent feelings of low self-worth, City Strings helps youth overcome these prevalent and caustic barriers through becoming an instrumentalist in a well-respected performing ensemble. We emphasize respect, discipline, accountability, and peer mentoring.

Through the esteemed achievement of these young people, a very evident ripple effect in the community is realized: excited youth uplift their families, who uplift their neighbors in the greater community, creating a subsequent upswing in hope as stereotypes are not only overcome, but positively redefined!

In a nut-shell, City Strings is "cultivating young lives by inspiring and developing possibilities
as they learn to play a stringed instrument, collaborate with peers, and present their talents to the community."

We specialize in: "Encouragement Through Musicianship!"

Ruling year info


President and Founder

Ms. Bithyah Israel

Main address

PO Box 192120

Roxbury, MA 02119 USA

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Formerly known as

City Strings



Subject area info


Youth organizing

Population served info

Children and youth

Ethnic and racial groups

At-risk youth

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Performing Arts (A60)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Tax forms


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Youth who live in under-resourced areas face inequities of education and opportunities that can cause additional emotional, psychological, and economic distress. All young people deserve access to dynamic creative youth development opportunities that support their true, positive identities and where they can see themselves achieve celebrated milestones. Youth from under-resourced communities often lack this access, which can cause lifelong difficulties. City Strings provides programming that answers this need.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

City Strings Performance Ensemble

Students in the performance ensemble work together to create a successful team of musicians, playing together with proper dynamics, tempo, rhythms, and technical ability.

This activity provides a platform for many transferable skills, such as team-building, ability to accept critiques, self-evaluation, and professionalism in the studio and in public.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Playing Toward Our Future program integrates social-emotional learning activities and interactive instrumental classes focused on nurturing the whole child. This approach brings youth development and ensemble playing together as a vehicle for the application of life skills such as communication, preparation, agency, and creativity, giving students an example of how their success is a result of their application.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Ethnic and racial groups

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

City Strings’ mission is to inspire and challenge children from underserved communities to develop leadership and life skills and a passion for excellence through the discipline of a music ensemble.

City Strings aims nurture the whole child through an integrated approach which combines creative youth development and music education. This combination provides youth with tangible milestones, such as music literacy and instrumental performances while fostering healthy development of self through interactive activities and peer mentorship.

At City Strings, we deliver programming that celebrates students' strengths and that seeks their ideas in how they are taught.


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

President and Founder

Ms. Bithyah Israel

Bithyah Israel is a passionate, self-taught social entrepreneur opening access to high-quality programs for underrepresented communities, providing the same life-changing opportunities through music education that she received as a child. She has been recognized with the "Women of Courage and Conviction" award from the Boston Chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, The Boston Globe, New England Cable News, and Boston Neighborhood Network.


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 04/26/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Ellen Hallett

Peter Cobb

Ellen Hallett

Herman Hampton

Berklee College Of Music

Bill Huss

Mona Roberts

Sharon Brown

Margeurite Chatelier

Josette Goldish

Greg Hurray

Carrie King-Woodson

Cleopatra Knight-Wilkins

Bithyah Israel

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/26/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic (2+ races/ethnicities)
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation